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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Just In Case You Want To Know -- The Universe Is Dying

"The universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze.
The Universe is slowly dying."

--Simon Driver, University of Western Australia

Astronomers have believed as much for years, but the new findings establish the cosmos' decline with unprecedented precision. The research is part of the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, the largest multi-wavelength survey ever put together.

An international team of some 100 scientists used data from the world's most powerful telescopes -- based on land and in space -- to study energy coming from more than 200,000 galaxies in a large sliver of the observable universe.

(Simon Driver et al. “Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA): Panchromatic Data Release
(far-UV—far-IR) and the low-z energy budget.” Submitted to the journal Monthly
Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Press event at the IAU General Assembly
in Hawaii August 10, 2015.)

The sheer immensity of the sample size is stunning. Dr. Simon Driver and his colleagues have combined data from three space missions and two ground-based facilities into a truly massive data set called the Galaxy and Mass Assembly survey (GAMA).

The result is a panchromatic view of 221,373 galaxies, covering radiation emitted at wavelengths between the far-infrared (500 microns) and the far-ultraviolet (0.1 microns).

Based on those observations, they have confirmed the cosmos is radiating only half as much energy as it was 2 billion years ago.

So the bad news is evident -- it looks as if the end is inevitable. Is there any good news about the demise of the world as we know it? Perhaps. Death does not mean the universe will go away. It will still be there, but its stars and all else that produces light and stellar fire will fizzle out. And, how long will it take for the end of the "fizzle"? Astrophysicists say this will take trillions of years.

But you know the old saying: "Time flies." Future human kind, don't say we didn't warn you.

We Astronomers
by Rebecca Elson
We astronomers are nomads,
Merchants, circus people,
All the earth our tent.
We are industrious.
We breed enthusiasms,
Honour our responsibility to awe.

But the universe has moved a long way off.
Sometimes, I confess,
Starlight seems too sharp,

And like the moon
I bend my face to the ground,
To the small patch where each foot falls,

Before it falls,
And I forget to ask questions,
And only count things.

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